10 Safety Tips for General Contractors
Among general contractors, one of the biggest concerns on each job site is providing a safe working environment that not only protects employees, subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers, but that also allows for efficient, safe progress toward the end goal. However, with more than 6 million individuals working in the construction industry, it is no surprise that accidents are common. Throughout the United States, there are roughly 150,000 construction accidents each year. To help avoid being part of the growing accident statistics, licensed general contractors must take precautions on the job to ensure through the following safety tips.
1. Protective Gear
One of the easiest ways to ensure safety on a construction job site is to require protective gear be worn by all workers and visitors. Protective gear comes in many different forms, including eyewear, steel-toed shoes, gloves, and hardhats, all which make a difference in the safety of a site among workers. In addition to mandating the use of protective gear, general contractors must also encourage workers to inspect the condition of the items before use. This helps to safeguard individuals from unnecessary accidents.
2. Equipment Loading and Unloading
On each job site, general contractors must also encourage employees and subcontractors to pay close attention to the loading and unloading of equipment. When working with heavy or awkward materials and supplies, the chance for a machine to roll is high. Workers need to be careful when loading and unloading this type of common construction site material, having more than one person involved in the process, and following guidelines throughout.
3. Getting In and Out of Equipment
In addition to loading and unloading equipment, general contractors should share the importance of taking it slow when getting in and out of equipment or machinery used on the job. Some common safety tips in this arena include checking for slippery surfaces and unstable footing, using a ladder when necessary, and asking for help when warranted. Avoiding fast movement when getting on and off a piece of equipment is also beneficial in keeping safety standards high.
4. Promoting Ladder Safety
Getting up and down ladders on a construction site is a common pitfall for safety issues. General contractors can encourage the safe use of ladders by promoting ladder safety training to start. Construction site workers should also be reminded that there is an appropriate ladder to use for each job, not a one-size-fits-all solution. Ladders should also be inspected to determine their working condition, and workers should always maintain three points of contact when climbing up or down.
5. Hiring Experienced Workers
Subcontractors are a vital part of almost all construction worksites, but not all are created equal. It is up to the general contractor to know the experience other contractors bring to the table, as well as their individual licensing and bonding qualifications. Take a close look at work experience for any new contractor hired for a job, and be sure to vet their references when provided. This offers some peace of mind that safety guidelines will be met throughout the job.
6. Being Aware of Potential Hazards
Not all general contractors spend each day on a job site, but it is crucial to, at a minimum, take inventory of each new project’s lay of the land. Potential hazards may be lurking that can result in devastating accidents. Being aware of hazardous conditions on the job is crucial to eliminating unnecessary safety risks.
7. Maintenance of Equipment and Tools
Maintaining the condition of equipment and tools used in construction work is also essential to increase efficiencies in safety. Malfunctioning equipment can quickly put workers in harm’s way, leading to accidents and injuries that are completely avoidable. General contractors should spend time each visit inspecting the state of equipment and tools to ensure they are in good working order.
8. Decreasing Crowded Work Areas
Construction sites can get crowded quickly, especially when a big project is underway. Instruct workers, vendors, and suppliers to remove themselves from locations that do not require their attention. Reducing the number of people lessens the risk of accidents, and general contractors can accomplish this safety task by putting strict guidelines in place at the start of each project.
9. Worker Education
Even when subcontractors are evaluated for hire based on their previous industry experience and licensing qualifications, ongoing worker training is a must. To ensure safety standards are up to date with best practices in the industry, general contractors should encourage their staff to partake in training courses either in-person or online. Safety training courses are available through OSHA as well as several other outlets. Being educated about safety standards helps reduce accidents and injuries among construction workers.
The most important safety tip for general contractors boils down to clear, concise communication. This, however, is often easier said than done. Start with establishing the chain of command on each job site, and use the communication mediums that make the most sense for the crew. Also, it is important to be available via those channels when workers need guidance or assistance on the job. It is also important to master the skill of listening, as workers may share important safety concerns or suggestions throughout a project.
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